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Business Monthly – TCAT expects record number of signups

The Tennessee College of Applied Technology, located at 241 Vo Tech Drive in McMinnville, is about to enter a period of record student enrollment. There are several reasons for this optimistic forecast.

First and foremost, the market demand for TCAT graduates is high – very high. Companies keep calling to hire more graduates. These are high-paying jobs – usually between $18 and $20 an hour to start.

Second, TCAT continues to expand the classes available for dual enrollment (college classes). The two main classes are welding technology and machine tool technology. The demand for graduates exceeds the supply in both cases. Machine Tool Technology has benefited from a $1 million GIVE grant, which means that all equipment is brand new and state of the art. In August, Building Construction Technology will be offered at Warren County High School on dual enrollment for the first time.

The introduction planned for this fall will also include massage therapy, truck driving, barber and health care aide/quality specialist. The basis of all these classes is to respond to a recognized market demand.

For example, there are not enough truckers. Our aging population wants/needs more physical therapy, and Warren County needs more new homes.

TCAT-McMinnville has not experienced any student reductions due to the 2020 and 2021 COVID pandemic except in nursing. Their recent orientation courses were full. TCAT’s 2021 score for student internships was 82% (70% required for accreditation), which means graduates get good jobs.

Now comes reason #1. At the end of the recent Tennessee legislative session, a bill was passed to allow freshmen and sophomores access to dual enrollment funds for TCAT students . Until now, only high school juniors and seniors could access dual enrollment funds.

By definition, dual enrollment means college level courses usually with college instructors. The new directive leads freshmen and sophomores to take college courses earlier. This adds to the expectation that these students will go on to higher education after high school.

If the student enters the job market after high school, he will have more college courses on his resume to attract a better job. Ultimately, it’s a “win-win” situation. Beginning in early August, TCAT representatives will be soliciting enrollment from 9th and 10th graders in Warren, Coffee, White, Grundy, Van Buren, Dekalb, Cannon and Sequatchie counties. What a great opportunity for TCAT-McMinnville!

The fall semester at TCAT begins on September 6. There were 226 students who attended the summer school. Maximum student enrollment at TCAT is estimated at 420 at the main TCAT-McMinnville campus. Fall enrollment is expected to approach this level. The number of full-time employees is now 23 (compared to 21 a year ago). More instructors will be added to cover the new programs.

TCAT-McMinnville applied for grants for a new TCAT facility in McMinnville and Manchester. It’s all part of a five-year strategic plan. Dr. Melody Edmonds is President of TCAT-McMinnville. On its management staff are:

• Jennifer Wright – Academic Coordinator

• Dawn Winton – Student Services Coordinator

• Tennille Haston – Tax Coordinator

• Kim Rymer – Practical Nursing Coordinator

Melody is excited about these growth prospects. It is committed to exploiting opportunities. Last but not least, there are many new capital goods ordered or to be ordered for the new programs.

This is great news for TCAT-McMinnville and great news for Warren County. It also accelerates the level of education here. BRAC especially congratulates Melody Edmonds.